As a phone receptionist at an assisted living community, you are the first person callers will interact with at your location. Your receptionist skills are a big component of senior living lead generation and are often the difference between a caller who wants to take a tour of the facility and one who hangs up to find a friendlier place for Mom or Dad. How professionally you handle incoming calls is important to the caller and to your community's reputation. Read on to learn how to avoid the following 5 common mistakes receptionists make when scheduling phone appointments.
Keeping People On Hold Or Not Picking Up
Not picking up the phone is easily the biggest reason that assisted living communities keep their occupany low. You probably understand this feeling from your own experiences with call centers. If you have to put a prospective client on hold, tell them you appreciate them holding while you transfer the call. If the party they seek is on another call to another client, politely ask the caller if they prefer to hold, leave a voice mail message or leave a message with you for a call back. If your caller chooses the hold option, check back with them every minute or so. If possible, ask the caller if there is any information they can share with you about the reason for the call. If they do not want to share, politely confirm your understanding. If they do share, make sure you pass all the information along when you transfer the call. Some phone systems automatically tell a caller on hold how long the wait time is and offer other ways to contact the person they seek.
Not Having a Positive Attitude
People calling a senior living community for the first time are typically somewhat hesitant. They're new to the process and want to feel very comfortable if they're to leave their loved ones at your community. You don't need to sound overly perky, just awake, focused and interested in what the caller has to say. Remember, although you may answered these questions a hundred times in the past this experience is still very new and intimidating to the caller. Be patient and take the time to empathize with their situation. You can practice your phone technique when you answer the phone at home or get a friend to role play with you. Remember, you are the facility's first impression to the potential resident - Make it count.
Talking More Than You Listen
We understand that the caller has information that you need to retrieve in order to book a tour or qualify them as a potential customer but remember to do it in a conversational manner. The rule of thumb is that a receptionist should listen to the caller 70% of the time and talk only 30% of the time. Your chance to lead the conversation comes when it's time to answer a question about the facility's features that match the caller's needs -- and, of course, when you are setting an appointment for the caller to come in for a tour.
Seeming Too Eager to Set Tour Appointments
As with any sales oriented role it's never good to seem to pushy or too eager. The person calling you has most likely already done plenty of research on you and from your senior living communities website; especially if you're marketing to the adult children of seniors
. If they do have a question it's most likely something very specific and not easily available. Be sure to keep a list of common questions handy that will enable you to be ready when these questions innevitably come up. Also keep a list of the basic information you need from the caller in order to setup a tour. However when it comes to collecting the needed information about the caller don't make it sound like an inquisition. Think of it as a friendly neighborhood conversation over coffee. People like to talk about their problems/situation. You just need to guide the conversation.
NOT Asking to Schedule a Tour
This one may seem as obvious as not picking up the phone however
you'd be suprised at how many people forget to do it! If the conversation has hit a lul or the caller seems to have run out of their questions politely ask them if they'd like to setup a time to take a tour of the community. Getting somebody on-site for a tour greatly increases your chances of landing a new resident and should be one of the main metrics that a receptionist is judged on. So much more can be accomplished by an in-person conversation than by over the phone. On-site tours are a way for you to show off your community and get the potential resident more informed and comfortable making the investment in your community. Answer any questions they have, but don't forget to ask to schedule a tour.
Phone skills are both an art and a science. They often are the final step when marketing for assisted living. Assisted living is a big investment for people both emotionally and financially. You'll want to be as helpful as possible in their journey towards choosing a community for themselves or their parents. Be patient, be informative, but most of all, be yourself.
To learn more assisted living marketing tips visit our blog for more information. If you're interested in learning some strategies for website lead generation so you can have a steady flow of phone calls coming in all the time click the button below to download our free guide. Our assisted living marketing agency is available anytime for a free consultation or to create a fully customized marketing plan based on the occupancy goals of your community.